A HEREFORDSHIRE trained horse who could provide more Cheltenham Gold Cup success next month hit the winning trail again following a lengthy injury.

Cheltenham hope L’Homme Presse, trained by Venetia Williams, made a winning comeback in the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield

Despite an absence totalling almost 400 days following injury, L’Homme Presse was made the 8/11 favourite to make a successful return in Lingfield’s £165,000 Winter Million feature race.

The Herefordshire prospect showed why retaining his ability with a two and a quarter length win over the runner-up Protektorat, ridden by usual jockey Charlie Deutsch.

The two-and three-quarter mile contest saw jockey Harry Skelton keen to make use of Protektorat’s fitness edge with an aggressive front-running ride and he looked to have L’Homme Presse in trouble at one stage.

Despite hitting a ‘flat spot’ four fences from home, L’Homme Presse was the one travelling the better from the home turn and kept on well to take the honours.

Kings Caple based Williams said after the win: “It’s been a long time coming and I’m thrilled for Andy, Pat and Peter (the owners) to have been as patient as they have been.

“There were proper stayers in there today who were going to eke out any weakness and he’s a stayer of course, but you can’t expect them to plumb the depths of their stamina first time out after a long time off.

“It (injury) was enough to keep him off for a good few months and then the season was coming to an end and we wanted to give him a long, steady preparation this autumn. It’s taken a while.” She added.

The nine-year-old L’Homme Presse had claimed Cheltenham’s Brown Advisory as one of his two Grade One novice wins two seasons ago and had also scored in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.

However, he subsequently unseated Deutsch when booked for second behind Bravemansgame in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and missed the rest of the campaign through injury.

Williams went on to elaborate to the media present at Lingfield: “We brought him here and he could possibly have run a bit earlier but the races weren’t there. We wanted him to run somewhere where it was an appropriate race and we also had enough time to get him fit. I’m sure he will improve a bit, but don’t expect masses of improvement.”

The winner's Cheltenham Gold Cup odds were trimmed to 9/1 from 14/1and Williams raise the prospect of L’Homme Presse running again between now and March, with next month’s Ascot Chase as one possibility.